9th Circuit Court Rules Second Amendment Doesn’t Guarantee Right To Open Carry

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Hawaii gun regulation, ruling Wednesday that states can restrict the right to openly carry a firearm in public.

The 7-4 decision said restrictions on carrying guns in public do not fall within the scope of what is protected by the Second Amendment.

“The government may regulate, and even prohibit, in public places – including government buildings, churches, schools, and markets – the open carrying of small arms capable of being concealed, whether they are carried concealed or openly,” Judge Jay Bybee wrote for the majority.

The majority based their decision on previous rulings and a review of both American and English law.

“We have never assumed that individuals have an unfettered right to carry weapons in public spaces,” the majority ruled. “Indeed, we can find no general right to carry arms into the public square for self defense.”

“The en banc court held that the Second Amendment does not guarantee an unfettered, general right to openly carry arms in public for individual self-defense. Accordingly, Hawaii’s firearms-carry scheme is lawful.”

The case was brought by George Young, who applied for a license twice in 2011 to carry a gun in public either openly or concealed and was denied both times because he didn’t prove the “urgency or the need” to openly carry a firearm in public, the decision said. Instead, Young relied on his “general desire to carry a firearm for self-defense.”

Under Hawaii’s law, residents have to show the “urgency or the need” to carry a firearm in public and must be of good moral character and “engaged in the protection of life and property.”

Young sued, arguing the “denial of his application for a handgun license violated his Second Amendment right to carry a loaded handgun in public for self-defense.” (RELATED: South Carolina State Senators Suggest Making Everyone A Militia Member To Protect Gun Rights)

SPRINGVILLE, UT - JANUARY 9: Gun instructor Mike Stilwell, demonstrates how you can accidentally put a bullet in backwards in a clip as as he teaches a packed class to obtain the Utah concealed gun carry permit, at Range Master of Utah, on January 9, 2016 in Springville, Utah. Utahs permits, available for a fee to non-residents who meet certain requirements, are among the most popular in the country because they are recognized in more than 30 states. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

SPRINGVILLE, UT – JAN. 9: Gun instructor Mike Stilwell, demonstrates how you can accidentally put a bullet in backwards in a clip as as he teaches a packed class to obtain the Utah concealed gun carry permit, at Range Master of Utah, on Jan. 9, 2016 in Springville, Utah.  ( George Frey/Getty Images)

The court said the question was  “whether individuals have a right to carry weapons openly in public.” The court reviewed the Supreme Court’s decision in both District of Columbia v. Heller  and McDonald v. City of Chicago and found “Hawaii’s restrictions on the open carrying of firearms reflect longstanding prohibitions and that the conduct they regulate is therefore outside the historical scope of the Second Amendment.”

“We have previously held that individuals do not have a Second Amendment right to carry concealed weapons in public,” the court also added. The 9th Circuit previously ruled in 2016 that there is no constitutional right to carry a concealed weapon in public.

Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain authored Wednesday’s dissent, calling the ruling “extreme.”

“The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms’. Today, a majority of our court has decided that the Second Amendment does not mean what it says,” the minority dissented. “Instead, the majority holds that while the Second Amendment may guarantee the right to keep a firearm for self-defense within one’s home, it provides no right whatsoever to bear-i.e., to carry – that same firearm for self-defense in any other place.”

“This holding is as unprecedented as it is extreme.”

“We now become the first and only court of appeals to hold that public carry falls entirely outside the scope of the Amendment’s protections,” O’Scannlain continued. “In so holding, the majority reduces the right to ‘bear Arms’ to a mere inkblot.”

Wednesday’s decision overturned a 2-1 ruling in the case by a 9th Circuit panel in 2020. The panel ruled Hawaiian officials violated Young’s rights when he was denied the permit to open carry in public, according to the Los Angeles Times.  O’Scannlain wrote the majority opinion for the panel.

The Daily Caller has reached out to the National Rifle Association but did not receive a response by the time of publication.